520 Juridical Tribune Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2019
constituency, especially the working class vote2. In addition to the Labor leftwing,
the national movements of Scotland and Wales supported the UK’s exit from the
European Communities. However, in an election with an important turnout rate, two-
thirds of voters confirmed European membership (64%).3
The course of the United Kingdom in the European construction has been
marked by a clear singularity, which has placed it in frequent contrast with its
counterparts, particularly with the Franco-German axis4. There are numerous
examples of British identity in the integration process, from the so-called British
rebate of Mrs. Thatcher, to the rejection of the Charter of Fundamental Social Rights
of Workers at the time of the Single European Act, from the refusal of the single
currency in Maastricht, to the rejection of the Schengen Agreement in the 1990s and
the Fiscal Compact during the euro crisis.
Moreover, throughout the deepening of European integration, the United
Kingdom frequently drew red lines against the expansion of European competences,
from the so-called social Europe to common taxation, from the Charter of
Fundamental Rights to the intergovernmental nature of the Common Foreign and
Security Policy. A striking moment in the British perspective was the debate on the
future of the Union launched by German Foreign Minister Fischer, proposing a
European Constitution and conferring a leading role for the European Parliament.
Blair, perhaps the most pro-Europeanist of the heads of government of the United
Kingdom, opposed the British vision of a Europe based on the primacy of the
Member States, with the upgrading of the European Council to the rank of a separate
In a way, the current European Union embodies the limits of the British
consensus in the four decades following the first enlargement. Throughout the
various constitutional agreements, the United Kingdom significantly shaped the
development of European construction. In some cases, the UK’s stubborn position
would in time reveal itself a wise one, as indeed happened with the so-called opting-
out from the economic and monetary union, a provision that would repair it from the
turmoil that hit the eurozone with the 2008 financial crisis.
This article analyzes the Brexit referendum, focusing on the political events
that led to the popular vote. It also aims to answer the following question: was the
referendum the right way to decide on the exit of the United Kingdom from the
European Union, taking into account the principle of the sovereignty of the British
Parliament and the model of representative democracy on which the political system
2 Evans, G., Carl, N., Dennison, J., Brexit: The Ca uses and Consequences of the UK’s Decision to
Leave the EU, in M. Castells et al. (ed.), Europe’s Crises, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018, p. 386.
3 17,37 million votes for European membership (67.2%), against 8,47 million votes for leaving the EEC
4 Matthijs, M., Europe after Brexit. A Less Perfect Union, „Foreign Affairs” 96, nº1 (2017), p. 93.